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01-04-2016, 06:26 PM   #1
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Exposure recommendations from photographing negatives

I have a large quantity of 6 X 9 cm negatives from a Kodak folding camera that I would like to photograph.

As a uniform light source I intend to use my IPad and a macro lens set up on a copy stand, but was looking for suggestions on metering to get the best exposure for highlights without burning them out.

What have people done in the past, for this purpose.

I also have a smaller quantity of positives dated in the mid 1940s, here exposure is not the problem but I will likely need to do PP in a photo editor for color balance

Any suggestions would be welcome

01-04-2016, 09:33 PM   #2
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I would first check the iPad to make certain the light is even. Meter the iPad at the corners and in the middle and if the exposure varies by more than 1/2 stop, don't use it. Also, mask all areas that are not being used to illuminate the negative to reduce flare.

Keep the ISO low, say 100, and then shoot in raw format so you can do highlight recovery afterward. This will also allow you to bracket the exposure to get the best results. Do average metering, but as this is digital, remember, it is better to over expose a bit as you can recover information captured in the highlights, but in the shadows it is all but lost.
01-05-2016, 05:09 AM   #3
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Thanks Dave.

Actually the iPad app I am using has allowance for variable masks so I can cut down the stray light significantly.

One thing I am wondering is whether the film, mostly from the 40's and 50's has less latitude than my DSLR,

In principle, I should be able to get virtually all the data in the middle 6-7 stops of the 10-11 stops latitude of my sensor.
01-05-2016, 07:07 AM   #4
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Hi Lowell:

Generally, the tonal range on film is greater than the DSLR as you can go from near zero density to over 3 on film (a variation of 10 log units which would equal 10+ stops, as every 0.30 increase in density is equal to a one stop change). However, I suspect the actual range will be less than that. You may also want to use something to put a matte diffusion on the iPad in this case so you do not get any specular reflection issues between the lens of the camera and the iPad surface. Just don't capture the images in JPG if you want to do significant adjustments afterward. RAW (DNG) files would be the way to go.

01-05-2016, 07:35 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
As a uniform light source I intend to use my IPad and a macro lens set up on a copy stand, but was looking for suggestions on metering to get the best exposure for highlights without burning them out.
Again, a suggestion that's not exactly responsive to your question, but anyway -- I'd suggest not placing the negatives directly on the iPad screen, because if your macro lens has sufficient DOF to accommodate a little warping/bending of the negative, then it will ALSO have enough DOF (and potentially resolution) to pick up the individual R-G-B pixels on the iPad screen. You can avoid this by elevating the negative over the screen a little bit or placing a white translucent piece of plastic between the negative and the iPad screen.
01-05-2016, 10:13 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Quicksand Quote
Again, a suggestion that's not exactly responsive to your question, but anyway -- I'd suggest not placing the negatives directly on the iPad screen, because if your macro lens has sufficient DOF to accommodate a little warping/bending of the negative, then it will ALSO have enough DOF (and potentially resolution) to pick up the individual R-G-B pixels on the iPad screen. You can avoid this by elevating the negative over the screen a little bit or placing a white translucent piece of plastic between the negative and the iPad screen.
QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
I'd recommend picking up a light table instead. They can be found super cheap on cragislist, ebay, etc. these days, and their light is very even and full spectrum. Even better is to put a piece of frosted glass on top of the light table to avoid Newton Rings if you are going to be laying the negatives right on the surface. I've tried shooting my negs with multiple exposures and merging in HDR, and it does help a small bit, but nothing dramatic. It also pays to use a hood/bellows/cone of some sort to mask out ambient light.

B+W negative and color PP PP is easy, but for color negatives, it takes a bit more work to completely remove the heavy blue cast resulting form the orange in the negatives.
Thanks for the feedback. FYI my iPad already has a frosted protective layer, as this makes long term reading easier on the eyes.

First quick shot did not show any rgb separation, but I will look closer when I mount on a tripod

Also note I will be shooting at the emulsion side and given the 6x9 format compared to a 2.4x3.6 format of a regular film shot, I do not expect seeing as much of the background matrix as would be the case for scanning 35mm film
01-05-2016, 12:24 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
One other recommendation to take advantage of the huge resolution of the 6x9s is to get in as close as you can with your macro setup and take multiple images across the film cell, then stitch them in post.
in principle yes i agree, but please consider the actual source of the images.

see the attached camera


i am not sure i need higher resolution.

the prints from this camera and all 120 film cameras of that era were actually contact prints, not enlargements.
01-05-2016, 04:01 PM   #8
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You will see the frosted layer if negs are placed on it and possibly the pixels, I did when I used a Zuiko 50mm with extension tubes. I photographed a whole heap of negs a while ago, best setup was a holder I jerryrigged up to allow the neg to be higher up and off of any surface, I then bounced a flash from underneath through frosted glass, which gave a nice bright uniform light source.

01-24-2016, 01:27 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
in principle yes i agree, but please consider the actual source of the images.

see the attached camera


i am not sure i need higher resolution.

the prints from this camera and all 120 film cameras of that era were actually contact prints, not enlargements.
How amazing. I used to own 1 of these about 40 years ago, which was in a second-hand shop. They are brilliant film cameras. I found getting a negative copy in a conventional scanner and then inverting in PhotoPaint worked. A flatbed scanner has the advantage of no other light source affecting copying imo.
01-24-2016, 01:40 AM   #10
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My medium format folding cameras are very sharp indeed. I use a flash rather than a tablet screen to copy negatives and at full power I can usually get 1/160s, ISO 100 around f/11 - pretty ideal for resolution. I use several layers of frosted colourless plastic from a stationers to diffuse the light.

I'm not sure which DSLR you're using to copy the film but the K3 has an option to invert the colours of a shot. I have one of my three user modes set up for B&W negative copying - invert the colours, convert to B&W, tweak contrast. That way I can see immediately if the settings are OK and I can even use the jpegs with just a crop and maybe straighten.

I have thought of getting an alternative light source for this. Something constant would allow me to take HDR shots and thereby increase dynamic range. If you're using your iPad then this could be an option.
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